paleopip | Chicago Reader

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Re: “A homo Hamlet?

Mr. Adler, so many of your comments were off the mark, I cannot fathom the purpose behind them toward a review of this production. I did not get any impression what-so-ever that Mr. Halberstam (director) or Scott Parkinson (Hamlet) were playing Hamlet as a repressed gay man. If they were, more power to them, but it did not at all come across the way you described. Although you seemed to deny saying this in your response to Anthony your review focused so much on physical details of Mr. Parkinson that you clearly are saying just that. In fact your comments regarding Scott I can only see as offensive and nonsense if not erroneous. Mr. Parkinson seemed to me rather tall (although I've never met him) nothing similar to a "runt' or a "spindly short guy". His delivery was intense, at times forceful but never "mewly". The comment about his hair taking on "a yellowish tinge in the light" is even worse. In all the years Mr. Parkinson performed at Chicago Shakespeare Theater I only recall his hair as blond so the comment seemed entirely pointless. I guess if they had dyed it black you would have likened him to a Goth instead of Andy Warhol, another ridiculous and meaningless comment. Worse still is your comment "his features are too big for his face" (what does that even mean?!). In fact all these comments seem only a personal invective and do not contribute to a review (much less any insight or understanding) of Scott's portrayal or of this production. These comments do a disservice to Mr. Parkinson whose delivery of the language was not only masterful but truely revelatory. In my experience there are few actors in the U.S. who could match his delivery.
Although Death is a recurring theme as you point out, it is not only in the context of Hamlet's conflicted wish for it, but also as the death of a beloved father, murder of a respected King, as a contemplation on the useless and wasteful death of youth from war, as expedient and (questionably) justified for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, etc. Yet the play is not simply a muse on Death. Meditation on Death is only one symptom of the larger theme of conflict - deep, terrifying, personal conflict. Another symptom of conflict in Hamlet, among others, is the comic or "mad" scenes, all consistent with someone undergoing severe psychic turmoil and conflict. In this regard a legitimate comparison with closeted homosexuality in a local world that does not allow it to exist can be made yet so too, and just as easily, can other comparisons. But this is an interpretation of the text itself and I disagree entirely that this production comes across as playing it that way literally. Olivier's Hamlet for god's sake is played more effeminately.
Your quoting Rosencrantz's "My lord, you once did love me" as an example of an underlying homosexual theme is so ridiculous it is not worthy of even a college reviewer majoring in physics as it is well known men of the period and up well into the 19th century commonly referred to their love for one another. Shakespeare's plays are rife with such comments without a homosexual inference in the plot anywhere in sight. You should be embarrassed you even included that comment in your review. That's right on par with audience members who titter when a character refers to someone having a "queer personality" or "feeling gay" in a Noel Coward or Shaw play.
It is not a perfect production and there were more insightful criticisms to make besides what comes across as a ridiculous personal attack. I have seen nearly a dozen productions of Hamlet, including the National Theater in London and I think Scott Parkinson's Hamlet was as close to perfect as I've seen in portraying, consistently and intensely, the near-epic psychic conflict at the heart of this play. I think Scott's performance alone raises this production to stellar. I wish I had it on tape. Tim

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by paleopip on 09/25/2012 at 12:29 AM

Re: “The Convert

Painfully accurate and relevant, engrossing story and perhaps the greatest ensemble performance in many years. 5 stars at least.

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by paleopip on 03/01/2012 at 12:44 AM

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